Clean Sweep for Democrats on Local Election Commission? 

JACKSON BAKER

This past week saw the resolution of two political mini-dramas with the special-election victories of Democrats Beverly Marrero and G.A. Hardaway for state Senate and state House positions, respectively. One other piece of news from the week (actually late last week): Shelby County Election Commission chairman Greg Duckett was named to the state Election Commission — which means that a new member will shortly be named to the county Election Commission.

Woops! Here comers another political drama — maybe not so mini. The fact is, the local Commission is facing, not a single routine replacement, but something resembling a total makeover — at least of its three-member Democratic Party contingent.

As Senate Democratic leader Jim Kyle, a member of the Shelby County legislative delegation that will resolve the issue, put it on Thursday: “I wouldn’t be surprised if either Maura [Sullivan] or O.C. [Pleasant] went off, too. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if they both did.”

A total swap-out for the Election Commission’s Democrats? Other members of the delegation said they’d heard similar conjectures. Delegation chairman Joe Towns, for one. Towns, who personally took no position on the prospect of a complete makeover, said he was disappointed that state Rep. Larry Miller, point man for the Election Commission issue, had put off a Thursday meeting of the delegation in Nashville.

“Since we have a hard time getting together in Memphis, we’ll have to wait until Monday just to see who the candidates are,” said Towns.

Deadline for applications for the commission was Monday. The list of applicants for one, two, or three positions include the two party holdovers, Sullivan and Pleasant, and several other well-known local Democrats, including former commissioner Myra Stiles’ recent countywide candidates Coleman Thompson, Shep Wilbun, and Sondra Becon; and local AFSCME leader Dorothy Crook.

One Shelby legislator said that the delegation would definitely name at least two members. “O.C. and Maura don’t work together. One of them has to go,” he said.

In addition to what could be personal clashes, the Commission as a whole has come under frequent challenge during the past year for alleged derelictions in supervising elections (charges denied by commissioners).

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